BREMEN — Neither coach could be unhappy with their teams’ offensive output. Now if they could just find a way to bring their defense up to the same level of play.
Bremen rallied from a 2-0 deficit after a somewhat sleepy start with three goals before the half, then responded to a Plymouth equalizer in the second stanza with a three-goal outburst and held on for a 6-4 win in an offense-heavy game with the Lions’ area rivals at Jane’s Park Tuesday.
“We’re going to score goals. We attack very well, we have multiple formations that we can use, and even my defenders have quite a few assists from some nice balls over the top,” said Bremen boys soccer coach Mark Yoder. “I think the past couple games we weren’t defensively challenged as much, so we held strong. Tonight we saw a great Plymouth team that can play the ball to the center and move it quickly and that challenged our backs a lot more than we were used to, and we broke down in certain areas.”
Plymouth head coach Josh Martin echoed Yoder’s sentiments after the game.
With four goals by the Rockies at the contest, he might have expected a win. Indeed, with an initial 2-0 lead, Plymouth seemed poised to coast to its first victory in five games. But in a theme that’s become all too familiar over the past year or so, they couldn’t hold on to their early advantage.
“The problem isn’t our finishing all around the field; we’ve got all kinds of finishers. Obviously it’s the defense that’s leaking the goals,” Martin said. “The team defense — I can’t just blame the goalie or the back four. We’re not collectively defending well, and we’re giving up way to many opportunities around our box.”
The Lions registered 17 shots to Plymouth’s 12, but the two teams recorded a dead-even shots on goal margin of 9-9.
The home team found itself playing from behind early after goals by Clay Marshall and Ronaldo Garcia in the 5th and 14th minutes, but even trailing 2-0 the Lions looked dangerous after a Sam Lacher shot had caromed off the cross beam in the ninth minute and several other near misses before Roberto Gonzalez finally finished one off on a Danny Reynoso helper in the 29th minute to cut the Plymouth lead to 2-1.
Sam Lacher’s header on a short cross by Alex Adams wiped the slate clean in the 37th minute, and Lacher’s assist on a Ricky Reynoso score just 45 seconds later gave Bremen a 3-2 halftime advantage.
“I think with our attacking prowess this year, we have enough guys that are quality attackers that I don’t really worry about us getting goals. It was frustrating watching the final touches go over and go wide — we had so many close opportunities that we didn’t finalize on — and I think that was just some mental rust,” said Yoder of his team’s start. “We gave them the three days off over Labor Day, and I think that ended up hurting us rather than helping us, and I think Plymouth, although probably their legs may have been more tired, they didn’t look like it, and they were very mentally sharp coming into this game. I think as a coaching staff, maybe that one’s on us.”
The second half opened as a back-and-forth possession battle, and it was the Rockies who drew first blood when Blake Millser snuck an equalizer past Bremen keeper Austin Adams on a Cesar Aguilar pass in the 62nd minute.
But Bremen was quicker to respond in the second half as Reynoso got in behind the defense for a goal on a low drive from just a few feet outside the goal mouth to give the Lions back the lead at 4-3 in a physical play that saw Plymouth forward/ fullback Joe Smith sidelined with an ankle injury.
Roughly two minutes later, Arturo Reynoso dribbled one in on a Danny Reynoso lead pass, and Danny followed with his second goal of the night on an unassisted play in the 68th minute to push Bremen’s advantage out to an all but totally insurmountable 6-3 cushion. Tim Fonseca scored in the same minute, but the goal proved academic as the Rockies fell 6-4, their fourth loss in five games after a 2-0 start to the season.
With a big Northern Lakes Conference home game with Goshen this Thursday, Plymouth will need to shake off Tuesday’s loss as well as a disappointing 0-2-1 finish at their home tournament over Labor Day weekend. The team now sits at 2-4-1 overall with an 0-1 NLC start via a 3-0 loss to No. 2-ranked Warsaw last week.
“I think this was a psychologically difficult defeat,” said Martin Tuesday. “We didn’t perform in our tournament like we would’ve really liked to. Going from 2-3-1 to 2-4-1 going in against Goshen is never great for your confidence. But we’re finishing pretty well.”
Bremen remains unbeaten at 5-0, meanwhile, and will look to upend another Northern Lakes opponent with a big rivalry game against NorthWood Thursday.
“We’ll look to move forward and learn from this game. It was a nice test against a very good Plymouth team,” Yoder said. “I guess I relish in that. We had a really good test against a team that can put pressure on us. And we’ve got another big test with another NLC team on Thursday in NorthWood. That’s going to be another huge test for us, and these are the games that we should want to play in, that make you better as a team.”
• BREMEN 6, PLYMOUTH 4
P – Clay Marshall (Ronaldo Garcia), 5th minute
P – Ronaldo Garcia (Cesar Aguilar), 14th minute
B – Roberto Gonzalez (Danny Reynoso), 29th minute
B – Sam Lacher (Alex Adams), 37th minute
B – Ricky Reynoso (Lacher) 38th minute
P – Blake Milliser (Cesar Aguilar), 62nd minute
B – Danny Reynoso, 64th minute
B – Arturo Reynoso (D. Reynoso), 68th minute
B – D. Reynoso, 78th minute
P – Tim Fonseca, 78th minute
Shots on goal: Bremen 9, Plymouth 9
Saves: Austin Adams (Bremen) 5, Zak Lee (Plymouth) 3
Corners: Bremen 7, Plymouth 4
Records: Bremen 5-0-0, Plymouth 2-4-1